A Right to Die?
In 1990, Dr. Jack Kevorkian used a homemade suicide machine to help a 54-year-old Alzheimer’s patient, Janet Adkins, end her life. Adkins was the first of many patients Kevorkian helped to die, but her case began a long debate over the ethics of assisted suicide.
Kevorkian and his machine were shocking. But in the 1990s the issue was also being raised by mainstream doctors, like Dr. Timothy Quill, of Rochester NY. He published an article about his experience prescribing life-ending medication to a long time patient. And, in 1994, Oregon voters passed a ballot initiative allowing doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminal patients. Since then physician-assisted dying has become legal in California, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.
But for doctors and patients in the rest of the nation, it’s a wrenching issue. The case of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, who suffered from brain cancer, brought the subject to the fore, and more and more state legislatures are considering the issue.
More Like This
Could You Patent the Sun?
Decades after Dr. Jonas Salk opposed patenting the polio vaccine, the pharmaceutical industry has changed. What does that mean for the development of innovative drugs and for people whose lives depend on them?
Genetic Screening: Controlling Heredity
With every new advance in prenatal genetic screening, the ability to prevent suffering has also sparked difficult questions about what should count as “a disease” versus “a difference,” and whether we’re in danger of wiping out certain segments of the population. This story was produced in collaboration with PBS, American Experience.
Myths and Misperceptions about Eating Disorders
30 million people will suffer from eating disorders in their lifetime, yet decades after Karen Carpenter died from anorexia, myths about eating disorders continue.
Her Vegetative State Caused Congress, President Bush and Even the Pope to Weigh In
The controversy over Terri Schiavo’s case elevated a family matter into a political battle that continues to frame end-of-life issues today.